A decent and up-to-date CV is becoming increasingly important. It is the first tool to convince a recruiter that you’re the go-to guy/girl. Therefore, being different from all the other CVs is the key to being invited for an actual interview. Displaying the most important information about yourself in a insightful and strategic way will provide this distinction. There are a lot of different ways to do so, however, but the CaCo comes to the rescue! We’ve set-up an overview of the most important aspects of a CV and how to build one properly. Keep in mind that a CV is a very personal document, so if you have something very special that’s not mentioned below; don’t forget to implement it!
The first part of your CV is very simple and important at the same time: your personal information. This included your name (often including initials and such), day of birth, home address, phone number, email address and nationality. If credentials such as the possession of a driver’s license are important for your application, include these too! Adding an up-to-date photo of yourself as well is often received positively. Keep in mind that the photo has to be a bit formal and should only display you (not you + friends + beer on a holiday in Ibiza).
Second, you mention your current and completed education. Rank these from most to least recent, mentioning the relevant years. Don’t forget to mention the school/university (and city/country).
Thirdly, a very important aspect of your CV: employment history. Mention all jobs, including firm, function/tasks and period of employment. Again, rank your jobs from most to least recent. If possible, mentioning references (like your supervisor or colleagues) is very valuable. Don’t forget to include the contact information of your references (and don’t forget to inform them about you mentioning them in your CV)! You can also include work experience you’ve gotten during your studies (such as lab experience).
Next, you have to mention your qualities as an employee and/or person. Include languages and (computer) programmes you master and what skills you have. Indicating how strong your skills are is very important; you can indicate these with terms like ‘professional’, ‘native’, ‘basic’, etc. Keep in mind that it is a big turnoff for recruiters if they expect someone to speak fluently in English, while noticing rather basic proficiency. Being honest is key!
Last but not least, mention diploma’s, extracurricular courses, volunteer work, a board year, etc. If relevant, you can mention some of your hobby’s/personal interest. This provides an image of you as a person.
Click here for an example of a decent CV.
Maybe even more important than the resume is your letter of application. It serves as a personal business card to your future employer. The letter of application allows you to explain who you are, what good qualities you have, what your ambitions are and why you should be invited for an interview. The letter gives you the opportunity to put forward your personality and mentality, where a resume mainly serves as an overview of your recent pursuits and activities. Even though there are many ways of making your letter of application successful, we particularly find the following points essential.
Always start your letter with personal information. Start with your name, address and residence. Then mention the address of the company where you’re applying. Then follows the subject of the letter. Optional is to choose a standard subject: the job vacancy or function. To start more striking with ‘stop the search!’ or ‘I am the candidate you are looking for’ is also an option. After the subject, mention the date and write the salutation. Most of the time you don’t know the contact person, so recommendable is to use formal greeting, such as Dear Ms./Mr. Smith. If you’re unsure about the person’s gender, write the full name as in Dear John Smith.
In the first paragraph, emphasize which function you are applying for and how you came across this function. There is nothing wrong with standard sentences as ‘recently I saw your vacancy in’ or ‘recently one of your employees told me’, but they are definitely not catchy. Try to come up with an original opening sentence, one that sticks with the reader. For example: ‘every time I come across your company’s commercials I regret not being part of your organisation, therefore I did not hesitate once when encountering the vacancy’
In the second paragraph, explain important and relevant work experiences/qualities mentioned in your resume. Focus on the work experience/qualities important for the company and function. Make it less abstract by mentioning examples from your recent job or past jobs. These examples will strengthen the argumentation why you are suitable for the function. If you are employed somewhere else, explain why you want to switch jobs. Maybe mention the possibility to make a promotion, or that you’re eager for new challenges.
Why that specific company?
Often, there are multiple employers involved in the same field. What makes this company so special that you want to work there? In the third paragraph, explain why you want to work for that company instead for one of their rivals. It might come in handy to check the company’s website for useful information. Questions to think about are ‘what is their mission and vision?’, ‘what feeling do I get with this employer?’, ‘where does this employer stand for?’. Try to show your genuine interest in the company. Also, define the additional value you will have for the employer and why you are suitable for the job.
In the fourth paragraph, finish your letter by mentioning that you are willing to explain your letter/resume in an interview. Again, try to make this as original and catchy as possible. This way, the reader will remember you more easily. Even though it is important to be original, do not forget to stay formal and professional. The final sentence in a letter of application consists of a formal closing, such as Yours faithfully.
For a template of an application letter, click here.